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May 11, 2009 - May 4, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009


    Monkeysuits & Manners

There was a time nobody remembers... apparently.

OLD AGE. Since class warfare has been initiated, I'm prepared to defend the unpopular position of, well, class. Since it's been entirely forgotten by all sides. Just not by me.

It interests me that conservatives are struggling with why they were offended by the White House Correspondents Dinner last night. On the one hand, they know they were offended by Wanda Sykes's monologue and by the fact that Obama laughed at it. On the other, they think they're trying to be fair, trying to put it into perspective, not getting all bent out of shape by it because Ann Coulter is mean too, etc. Oh, and yeah, they're above it all somehow. Or just plain tone-deaf. Which?

Here's HotAir's Ed Morrissey being fair:

Comedians like Wanda Sykes are almost literally a dime a dozen.  They like to make headlines by being outrageous, but otherwise have as little relevance to everyday life as Baywatch does to Shakespeare.  She belongs in the same category as Janeane Garofalo, who apparently can’t gain attention any other way than to play the race card by yelling “White Power” on stage at conservatives.  Neither that nor calling Rush Limbaugh the 20th hijacker is witty, funny, or incisive.  It’s at the same level of intellect as babies playing with their soiled diapers, and about as meaningful.

I’m not particularly exercised by it, although it did lead to an interesting Twitter exchange today between myself, Patterico, Steven Den Beste [see update below], Atrios, and a few others.  About halfway into it I grew bored and watched Night at the Museum with my granddaughters.  It was a much better use of my time.

And Jonah Goldberg:

Anyway, why did I think it was awful? For starters, the hotel is under renovation, so the traditional pre-dinner reception in the courtyard was gone this year. This meant that everyone had to congregate indoors which turned the place into a steam bath. Also, neither The Weekly Standard nor NR had a reception this year, which was too bad.

As for the dinner itself, I thought Obama was fairly good for most of his talk, though I have my quibbles. I thought Wanda Sykes had some funny lines, but was generally pretty bad. Yes, I thought the Limbaugh stuff was particularly awful, not just because it was offensive, but because it was unfunny. Biting humor is fine at events like this, so long as it's humorous. Sykes's schtick was a cliche wrapped in a lefty talking point. There are funnier lines in lefty blog comment sections.

Enough. I could go on citing conservative lack of response, including the weekend and weekday Fox & Friends, who basically had no idea how they felt about about Wanda Sykes wanting Limbaugh's kidneys to fail given that they thought Obama himself was "self deprecating" and "funny." The fact that he was neither escaped them entirely.

I'd probably have let it all go except for Philadelphia talk show host Michael Smerconish, who's as dumb as they come and therefore put it all in perspective for me. (He has a talent for that. Thank you, Michael.)  This morning, he -- impassioned moderate that he is -- was asking his callers to rate the degree of offense represented by 1) the golfing writer who recycled an old lawyer joke to declare that in an elevator with Pelosi, Reid, and bin Laden and possessed of only two bullets, he'd shoot Pelosi twice and content himself with strangling Reid and bin Laden, and 2) Wanda Sykes's jokes at the White House Correspondents Dinner. His whole demeanor suggested they were the same and was trying to get his callers to admit it. He seemed (as usual) pleased with himself for having posted a self-cancelling question: Yes, obviously they're both wrong, so harm on both sides means no harm, no foul, net net a lawyer's wash for the attorney Smerconish. BUT: He apologized to a caller who didn't know that the Sykes comments occurred at, uh, the White Correspondents Dinner. He admitted he hadn't been clear about that. Which is why I finally decided to comment.

Context matters. I grew up in the generation between the one that called tuxedoes "dressing for dinner" and "monkeysuits." Pretty big connotative difference. "Dressing for dinner" means you're going to live up to some standard. "Monkeysuit" means you're blindly imitating some standard you don't feel any real respect for.

I imagine the White House Correspondents Dinner once meant that you were going to step things up a notch. If you were a scathing White House reporter, you'd have to elevate yourself by being both polite and witty rather than deadly. An elementary point that seems to have escaped new adherents to the calling: there is more than one gradation of wit. What determines the change in degree? The occasion. The office. The attire. The attire, even if it's at the local Rotary or country club. This is why ladies are important. They are at their goddess best, lovely, gowned, made up, high-heeled, perfumed, and faultlessly polite. The tuxedo is designed as a backdrop to them, as is the repartee. More than one gradation of wit. There's the murderous go-for-the-throat variety of newspapermen and political advocates working in their shirtsleeves in the trenches. Then there's the high-flown variety -- clever, allusive, luminous, numinous, stiletto-like, so light and seemingly benign that it takes days to see where and how it struck to the heart. The kind you do in the company of ladies in their full regalia.

The White House Correspondents Dinner was once conceived as the latter -- a dress-up occasion to which newspapermen could take their wives. Sparring with the president, who would don the same lightweight gloves and trade stinging jabs with his foes that might hurt but draw no blood. At least not tonight.

But note what has changed. Women are no longer ladies. Men no longer live up to their tuxedoes. And with the loss of these elemental traditions, all others go by the wayside too. In fact, the whole purpose of the exercise is lost. What's left is mean, political, stupid, crass, and even violent. Clods in monkeysuits. Laughing at viciousness.

In the best of worlds, some gentleman would have taken Wanda Sykes somewhere in dress-up ere this -- a wedding, a graduation, a rite of passage. She would have learned how to live up to an occasion without squatting in her evening gown to shit on the stage for the purpose of attracting attention. In the best of worlds, someone would have done the same with the Obamas, taught them there are times when being polite is the point. In a smarterr world, someone would have briefed the Obamas that watching a woman shit on stage with a big smile on your face is kind of gross.

Pardon me. Pardon me all to hell. We did have a president who knew all this stuff. We chose to hate him for having class. He never laughed at a cruel joke. He never thought it funny to wish for someone else's death, not even a political enemy. We put him to the ultimate test. We forced him to smile through a cruel character assassination at a White House Correspondents Dinner. He didn't even wince. He didn't pretend that his own arrogance was self deprecation. Rather, he was truly self deprecatory and made no self-congratulatory jokes about what he would do after his hundred (or seventy-two) days of creation. He made fun of his verbal infacility without ever reminding any of his critics that he knew how to fly a jet fighter better than any president since the one who saved the planet in Independence Day, the movie.

Class. Class.

You may yet feel nostalgic for it. You won't. But you should. Because mediocre is always better than better. And GWB's secret was always that he was much much better than mediocre. Obama's secret is beginning to look like the exact opposite.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

A Modest Suggestion:

A Statue of Al Gore???

Yes, you could build it. With a few tons of
bronze and all the carbon it would emit...

MOREGORE. It would be hard to make this stuff up:

Senate To Vote On Al Gore Statue
Resolution Previously Passed House Unanimously

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A resolution urging the creation of statues to be built on the Tennessee Capitol grounds of the state's two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Al Gore and Cordell Hull, is on its way to a full Senate vote.

The Senate State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday advanced the measure supporting the privately funded statues on a 9-0 vote. The resolution previously passed in the House unanimously.

Gore was awarded his Nobel prize in 2007 for his work on global warming, while Hull received the award in 1945 for his role in creating the United Nations and improving international trade relations.

Both men served as Democratic congressmen and senators from Tennessee before moving on to the executive branch, Hull as secretary of state and Gore as vice president.

I doubt whether Cordell Hull cares much about the whole thing, but Al Gore should be very concerned. Creating and installing a statue of a man his size could be incredibly wasteful in terms of carbon usage. I mean, what does he weigh now, 350 pounds? Translate his current volume into bronze or granite and you're talking a mega-load of fuel for the trucks and railcars that would have to transport it, not to mention the pollution from the furnace fires required for smelting the copper, tin, phosphorus, manganese, aluminum, and silicon it takes to produce bronze. (Don't even think about the larger-than-life statues favored by most crazed demagogues of his stripe. The mind boggles.)

That's why I'm so pleased to offer a clever and economical workaround that won't waste nearly as much fossil fuel and other planet-incinerating resources. It so happens that there was a doomed project called the President's Park, for which a sculptor named Adickes produced a significant number of monumental statues. One of them was a statue of our hugest president (by far), William Howard Taft.

You see where I'm going with this?

It's true that Taft had more hair than Gore, but otherwise the two of them are, frankly, dead ringers for each other, hugely enormous fat men with giant heads and carefully groomed eyebrows. So all that's really required is "rebranding" the Taft statue and moving it from its current domicile in South Dakota to whatever heavily reinforced piazza in Tennessee the legislators think could bear the weight.

What's more, I think I could also minimize the carbon, uh, footprint of the transport effort. Forget the trucks and railcars. If our aspiration is really to return to a simpler, greener way of life, now would be a good time to get started. Let's transport the Taft/Gore statue the way the Easter Islanders moved their stupid, phony, multi-ton godhead sculptures into place.

That's right. You get a bunch of true-green environmentalists to drag the damn thing all the way from South Dakota to Tennessee. (That sort of choking sound you hear is a cough, probably a touch of the Tennessee Giant Swine Flu. It's definitely not laughter.)

Then you let them figure out how to raise it upright and glue it in place. (Hell, you could charge admission just to watch them try to figure it out...)

You have to admit it's a pretty perfect plan. And all Al Gore has to do to save all the energy that could be saved is to grow a Taft mustache. I feel that a man of his prodigious intellect could just about manage that.

Or am I being too optimistic?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Well. NOW I'm
for Gay Marriage.

That Miss California hussy.

OUR SECOND EVER POST ABOUT GAY MARRIAGE. Yes, I've changed my mind. As of this moment, I am 100 percent in favor of gay marriage even if we have to pass a constitutional amendment to legalize it. Why? This picture. And this story from some gay magazine:

Nude Photos of Miss California Exposed

By Julie Bolcer

Just when many people felt they had already seen enough of Miss California, Carrie Prejean, a topless photo of the beauty pageant contestant and National Organization for Marriage spokeswoman surfaced late on Monday night.

The photo, which first appeared on, is allegedly one of six that exist of the 21-year-old Prejean, who came in first runner-up at the Miss USA pageant on April 18 after expressing her opposition to marriage equality onstage in Las Vegas. Insiders say the other five photos may be revealed soon.

“I can assure you they were quite inappropriate and certainly not photos befitting a beauty queen,” Alicia Jacobs, a reporter for KVBC-TV in Las Vegas, told NBC’s Today show on Tuesday morning.

Jacobs, who judged the Miss USA pageant, believes that the photos were taken after Prejean’s recent breast-augmentation surgery. However, in a statement issued overnight, Prejean claims the photos were taken when she was 17.

“I am a Christian, and I am a model,” Prejean said. “Models pose for pictures including lingerie and swimwear photos. Recently, photos taken of me as a teenager have been released surreptitiously to a tabloid website that openly mocks me for my Christian faith. I am not perfect, and I will never claim to be.”

She looks pretty perfect to me. But never mind that. This photo proves that we should abandon all resistance to gay marriage. I know this for a fact. All I'm trying to work out now is the actual logic of the argument. To be honest, it's not easy. Here are the theories I'm evaluating:

1. "Look what you made us do." Gay people love everybody and are always in favor of maximum freedom, especially the freedom to express yourself sexually. So, if they feel obligated to make an issue of a semi-nude photograph, then you must have done something pretty horrible to provoke them.

2. "Nobody who looks like that can possibly have a brain in her head." Everybody knows that the only intelligent women on earth are those crewcut lesbians with faces like Spencer Tracy and bodies like Spencer Tracy. And they'd never be caught dead in tight pink panties. Which means everything this bimbo says about anything is obviously wrong.

3. "See? She's obviously gay herself." That's not just a 'come hither' look. It's a 'come hither, mama' look. We know this because all the gay guys who've studied the photo do not feel attracted by any sense of sexual invitation, while the gay women feel tremendously attracted. Which means she said what she said only because she's too chickenshit to come out of the closet, and nobody should take her seriously, especially straight people.

4. "We're a lot more strait-laced than you think." Just because we run around the streets of San Francisco with our private parts hanging out all tattooed and pierced and like that doesn't mean we're not as shocked as some dried up Christian liibrarian virgin homophobe bitch from Iowa when we see a rank piece of pornography like this. You have us all wrong. That's why we want to get married so bad. So we can protect future generations of our adopted children from being exposed to filth like this.

Over at HotAir, AllahPundit seems to be having the same sort of trouble I am in deconstructing the precise logic that's being applied here:

[I]t’s very late in the day culturally to be feigning shock at material like this — and yet NBC, the network that aired photos and video of the Virginia Tech killer glorifying himself, has decided that the pic’s simply too hot for the Peacock to handle. A cynic might wonder if they want viewers to imagine that it’s worse than it is. Good thing I’m not a cynic.

I'm not a cynic either, Allah. I think the thing to do is not think about it too hard. Like the good folks at NBC. The thing to do is just feel. If you do that, all the right emotions come bubbling to the surface -- outrage, anger, contempt, disgust, and then, suddenly, one gigantic guffaw that will practically split your sides with mirth.

When you get to that point, you'll know immediately why this picture proves we should legalize gay marriage. It's a veiled plea for help. Just look at all they're missing. How poignant it is to realize that gay guys aren't attracted to that swell of breast and that cute little behind. Life has to be pretty much a hollow gourd for them. And it's even worse for the lesbians. Because nothing could be more obvious than that she doesn't look at all like Spencer Tracy, meaning she's just totally, completely, permanently out of reach. It makes you want to cry.

Or not.

Not Safe for Work:

More Porn

This is so totally hot you won't believe it.

TWICE IN ONE DAY. Yes, now it's National Review that's purveying porn on the intertubes. Gun porn. We couldn't resist. It is, after all, YouTube Wednesday.

What to Do:

The Freedom of Speech
Doomsday Clock

There's a nuclear doomsday clock. We need another doomsday clock.

CALL TO ARMS. Those of you who are looking for something to do about the demolition of our country, well, here is a big thing you can do. Start a blog focused exclusively on both the domestic and worldwide assaults on freedom of speech. They're real, they're growing, and growing cancerous. The latest tick occurred today, with the U.K.'s decision to ban Michael Savage from entry into that nation. For his speech. We've never carried a brief for Michael Savage, but all he does is talk. And this isn't an isolated incident. Canada tried to prosecute Mark Steyn for "hate speech" against muslim terrorists. The U.N. is trying to criminalize any sort of anti-muslim speech worldwide. The western democracies are caving one by one to the suicidal notion that limiting speech in the interests of political correctness trumps individual freedom of expression. Time for someone to climb the watchtower and ready the alarm fires.

You want to do some good? Start keeping track. Every damn day. Yes, they'll come for you eventually. But they're coming, sooner or later, for all of us who believe what we believe about individual liberty. No matter what you do, they'll probably come for us before they come for you. Maybe we'll be cellmates. Smuggle in some chalk and we'll play virtual checkers. A very challenging game.


When the Elders Get Mad...

That's when it's time to pay attention...

DEAN OF PUNDITS. I've been watching Charles Krauthammer on Special Report with the New Guy, and I'm not alone in that. National Review has taken to reproducing his -- and only his -- comments on that show word for word every day. Which I applaud them for. But transcripts do not do justice to the icy contempt for President Obama Krauthammer displays every night without uttering a single word. The other evening, I saw Krauthammer speak first on some Obama initiative, which was followed by a Juan Williams rebuttal. Krauthammer made no attempt to respond. He just looked at Williams. Well, I know that look. It told me we're in very, very, very deep shit.

Then, today, I found this posting by the one other voice worth listening to at FNC, Michael Barone. He's a stolid, analytical, almost phlegmatic devotee of facts and figures rather than partisan ideology. Like your rich uncle who's an accountant and reads the Financial Times while the kids are opening presents on Christmas morning. But he wrote this, today, in full (apologies, but it's too important to excerpt):

Last Friday, the day after Chrysler filed for bankruptcy, I drove past the company’s headquarters on Interstate 75 in Auburn Hills, Mich.

As I glanced at the pentagram logo I felt myself tearing up a little bit. Anyone who grew up in the Detroit area, as I did, can’t help but be sad to see a once great company fail.

But my sadness turned to anger later when I heard what bankruptcy lawyer Tom Lauria said on a WJR talk show that morning. “One of my clients,” Lauria told host Frank Beckmann, “was directly threatened by the White House and in essence compelled to withdraw its opposition to the deal under threat that the full force of the White House press corps would destroy its reputation if it continued to fight.”

Lauria represented one of the bondholder firms, Perella Weinberg, which initially rejected the Obama deal that would give the bondholders about 33 cents on the dollar for their secured debts while giving the United Auto Workers retirees about 50 cents on the dollar for their unsecured debts.

This of course is a violation of one of the basic principles of bankruptcy law, which is that secured creditors — those who lended money only on the contractual promise that if the debt was unpaid they’d get specific property back — get paid off in full before unsecured creditors get anything. Perella Weinberg withdrew its objection to the settlement, but other bondholders did not, which triggered the bankruptcy filing.

After that came a denunciation of the objecting bondholders as “speculators” by Barack Obama in his news conference last Thursday. And then death threats to bondholders from parties unknown.

The White House denied that it strong-armed Perella Weinberg. The firm issued a statement saying it decided to accept the settlement, but it pointedly did not deny that it had been threatened by the White House. Which is to say, the threat worked.

The same goes for big banks that have received billions in government Troubled Asset Relief Program money. Many of them want to give back the money, but the government won’t let them. They also voted to accept the Chrysler settlement. Nice little bank ya got there, wouldn’t want anything to happen to it.

Left-wing bloggers have been saying that the White House’s denial of making threats should be taken at face value and that Lauria’s statement is not evidence to the contrary. But that’s ridiculous. Lauria is a reputable lawyer and a contributor to Democratic candidates. He has no motive to lie. The White House does.

Think carefully about what’s happening here. The White House, presumably car czar Steven Rattner and deputy Ron Bloom, is seeking to transfer the property of one group of people to another group that is politically favored. In the process, it is setting aside basic property rights in favor of rewarding the United Auto Workers for the support the union has given the Democratic Party. The only possible limit on the White House’s power is the bankruptcy judge, who might not go along.

Michigan politicians of both parties joined Obama in denouncing the holdout bondholders. They point to the sad plight of UAW retirees not getting full payment of the health care benefits the union negotiated with Chrysler. But the plight of the beneficiaries of the pension funds represented by the bondholders is sad too. Ordinarily you would expect these claims to be weighed and determined by the rule of law. But not apparently in this administration.

Obama’s attitude toward the rule of law is apparent in the words he used to describe what he is looking for in a nominee to replace Justice David Souter. He wants “someone who understands justice is not just about some abstract legal theory,” he said, but someone who has “empathy.” In other words, judges should decide cases so that the right people win, not according to the rule of law.

The Chrysler negotiations will not be the last occasion for this administration to engage in bailout favoritism and crony capitalism. There’s a May 31 deadline to come up with a settlement for General Motors. And there will be others. In the meantime, who is going to buy bonds from unionized companies if the government is going to take their money away and give it to the union? We have just seen an episode of Gangster Government. It is likely to be part of a continuing series. [boldface added]

Barone and Krauthammer are grownups. They're the "Elders" of the title. When they get mad, as they so rarely do, something is deeply wrong. They're pissed. We're in very, very, very, very, very deep shit.

Just so you know.

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